Being a lady comes with its own set of hardships, regardless of where you live, but in war-torn countries like Afghanistan, it means living in a constant state of nightmarish proportions. The daily struggle for survival exists within a thick cloud of fear and anxiety for the women and young girls living there. Fighting for equal rights is hardly an option when you are busy dodging bullets and trying to avoid getting kidnapped, beaten, and raped. Being marginalized is merely a right of birth for Afghani women, and even abiding by the rules of that role doesn’t offer much hope when it comes to avoiding violence. It is customary for men to beat their wives in Afghanistan, simply because the culture accepts its own failure to deem women worthy of respect.
Dr Lima, an Afghani gynecologist, witnessed enough suffering at the start of her career to cause her to take on a very dangerous position. She says that initially, she would always refuse women asking for abortions, as the procedure is illegal. The turning point came when she was faced with an incident of a pregnant 17 year old girl whose parents drugged and suffocated her after learning of her condition. What’s worse is this type of inhumane reaction is not an isolated event in Afghanistan. Young girls are frequently punished by death for conceiving out of wedlock, even in cases of rape. The weight of this tragedy led to Dr Lima’s decision to defy the laws of her country, and in 2006 she began performing abortions and supplying contraceptives to the desperate women in her community.
Working near the eastern border, in one of the most highly Taliban-influenced areas of the country, Dr Lima lives in hiding as a result of the extreme dangers her job has imposed upon herself and her family. In 2009, after countless death threats against her, Dr Lima’s 11 year old son was badly injured by a grenade explosion in front of her home. Just six months later, another grenade attack outside her clinic took the life of her 22 year old brother. Refusing to let those acts of violence be in vain, Dr Lima continues to carry out her mission, aiding women in need. “My son was injured and my brother was killed as a result of my work, but I have never given up. These activities cannot be done without suffering. In Afghanistan, all women are suffering,” she explains with great valor.
Stories like this are important; they offer a new perspective on the gruesome reality of life for the millions of people plagued by the pure misfortune of being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. With great awareness comes powerful disillusionment. So don’t read from the comfort of your civilized peaceful world and develop a greater appreciation for where you are and what you have, because gratefulness for unearned privilege doesn’t help anybody. Who do you even thank for that, the uncontrollable forces of the universe? How do you justify who gets to live in suburban middle America and who goes to the kids-get-beheaded area of the Middle East? Let’s take a moment and count our blessings. Depending on where you live, a lucky day could consist of either winning a new car or walking outside without getting your legs eviscerated by a land mine. Judging by those calculations, it would appear to be a 1:1 tie on the ol’ blessing scoreboard. Someone should probably contact whoever is in charge at the Uncontrollable Forces of the Universe factory, because there seems to have been a bit of a whoops-a-doodle.